Featured Essays

Policy Distortions: How the American Right Frames Donald Trump’s Policy on North Korea

By | July 19, 2017

Sam Swash looks at how the North Korean population is conditioned to read for conspiracies that may or may not be there. In the process he reminds us that we may be just as much if not more open to misinformation that shows their leadership to be infallible. 

The Russian Sanctions Policy: Reflecting the Long View

By | July 10, 2017

It makes little sense for Russia to divest itself of economic ties to the northern half of Korea at the request of the United States. What Putin and his government fear is that new sanctions will cut Russia off from having a presence in a reunified Korea. Anthony Rinna looks at Russia’s long game.

The Past and Present of North Korean Belligerence: Rangoon 1983

By | July 07, 2017

The Rangoon Bombing of 1983 remains a piece of hidden history, only to be fully illuminated when the division of the two Koreas comes to an end. In the meantime, the archives of the ROK government give evidence of what motivated the attack. Let Eungseo Kim look back and be your guide.

Translation in Isolation: The Rare, the Bad, and the Weird

By | July 06, 2017

In his third installation of a multipart series, Martin Weiser returns to the question of translation. By tracing the process by which translations come into being, he highlights the limitations and bottlenecks that are created by the need to translate into multiple languages on a daily basis.

Revolution and Revival: Ideology and Faith in North Korea

By | June 23, 2017

Today, the North Korean state has all forms of spirituality under its iron fist. But today is but a 70-year blip on the radar of history. As Christopher Richardson writes in this reprisal of a speech delivered in Sydney on June 18, Christianity won’t yield so readily.

Targeting North Korea, Scratching Russia: HR 1644

By | June 05, 2017

Russia’s economic interactions with North Korea are attracting the attention of the United States. In May, a bill emerged from the US House of Representatives that targets labor exports and the activities of North Korean vessels using third-country (including Russian) ports. Russia is not pleased. Anthony Rinna investigates.

History and the State: Textbook Debate Underscores Deep Divide in South Korea

By | May 12, 2017

In a timely essay following the re-privatization of history textbook production in South Korea, University of Toronto graduate Yun Sik Hwang explored developments in South Korean nationalism and the manifestation of differing national identities in national history.

Anti-Communism Endures: Political Implications of ROK Political Culture

By | May 08, 2017

Anti-communism has a long and storied history in South Korea. Nobody disputes the prevalence of anti-communist sentiment. The public of all ages retains the view that there is an ongoing need for anti-communist ideology. Steven Denney looks at the data.

Wreathes, Smoke, and National Interest: April 15 and Commemoration in Asia

By | April 21, 2017

East Asia’s cemeteries are a reminder that while leaders and rhetoric may change, the structure of the region remains the same. The borders set in 1953 have not moved. But is there something in the air? Steven Denney cogitates on the contingency of Korean War memory and what it may mean in the present.

THAAD and the Great Power Context III: The Quiet Exception in Russian Geopolitics

By | April 18, 2017

Continuing his analysis of Russia’s position on THAAD from a regional security perspective, Anthony Rinna seeks to extrapolate some of the economic and geopolitical issues lying behind the THAAD factor in Russia-South Korea bilateral relations.

Prominent Defections in 2016: How North and South Korea Responded

By | March 29, 2017

Tom Fowdy looks back at 2016, when two defections made headlines around the world. He finds that, seemingly as usual, the pre-eminent concern on both sides of the DMZ appeared to be scoring geopolitical points.

Unstable Rhetoric: Few Additions, Some Changes, Lots of Omissions

By | February 23, 2017

In the second piece in his series on reading the North Korean media, Martin Weiser looks at the unstable nature of North Korean published rhetoric, which has a tendency to change across formats, and the ways in which this impacts upon reading and interpretation.